The Soul Tree: Poems and Photographs of the Southern Appalachians, poems by Laura Hope-Gill; photographs by John Fletcher (Asheville: Grateful Steps hardcover, photo quality paper, Sept. 2009, 118 pages, many color photographs, $49.95). See book's website.
John Fletcher's photos--with three different cameras over twenty years--reveal his sensitivity to atmospheric elements in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Laura Hope-Gill, a prominent local poet and organizer of Asheville Wordfest Poetry Festival, saw each photo as a mirror and created companion poems that relate the moments of communion with nature.
The photo on the cover goes with the first poem--and the title one--"The Soul Tree," which reads:
I have become the place
I grew into
And out of. Hear what my branches teach.
Hear how the loosest limb whispers
How I will be the first to feed, first fallen.
How I will fall from the inside out
And let what's in me out.
I have become the dry thing.
The mountain air strives to revive me.
Anymore I've no need
For rain or sleep. These have fed me enough.
Or even light. What arises for all things
I now become.
I've climbed my branches out of myself